Recessions, global pandemics, anti–law enforcement legislation, the list goes on and on. Since being founded in 1953 — when less than three dozen California peace officers formed a special association, collectively motivated to professionalize our occupation, with service at the core — PORAC and its members have met every challenge throughout the past 67 years with resiliency, determination and courage.
For well over a century, women have been breaking down barriers in law enforcement so that female peace officers can continue forging a path that promotes diversity, utilizes their talents and perspectives, and pushes the entire profession to be better. As we celebrate National Police Women’s Day on September 12, PORAC would like to thank the countless women who have elevated our profession and helped make our organization what it is today.
When Dawn Morabe first began attending local PORAC chapter meetings a little over a decade ago, she initially felt shy and reserved. But the more Morabe was around like-minded individuals who shared her desire to better the law enforcement profession, the more she began to open up and grow as a PORAC member and San Diego County Sheriff’s Department deputy.
A two-year legislative session never ends the way it begins, but 2019–20 is one for the records. The last six months have flipped everyone’s lives upside down, but we are grateful and honored to be working with an organization that so seamlessly transitioned through state closures and openings, shifts in the legislative calendar, drastically amended bills and varying media requests.
August, when temperatures in Washington make the city nearly uninhabitable, is traditionally the month when Congress recesses, returning to their districts to engage with their constituents. Despite the unprecedented circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn, 2020 has been no different.
As the summer heat in Washington rises, the police reform debate has gone cold as congressional negotiations over reform legislation have reached an impasse. While the Democratic House has passed a version of police reform, H.R. 7120, the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, that bill ends qualified immunity, something that the Senate Republican leader on police reform, Senator Tim Scott (R-S.C.), has repeatedly described as a nonstarter. Meanwhile in the Senate, Democratic lawmakers led by Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) have blocked Senator Scott’s own proposal, S. 3985, the JUSTICE Act, from moving forward. It is now likely that any legislation aimed solely at police reform will be pushed to 2021.
We are living in extraordinary times. As families, communities and businesses work together to manage the emotional, physical and very real fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, our country is also joining together to promote justice and take action toward eliminating racial inequality. While there is a level of uncertainty for the future, there is clear movement happening, and PORAC is committed to being part of the discussion.
For the past 15 years, PORAC Director-at-Large William Etue has served as an officer with the Los Angeles School Police Department (LASPD) — one of the largest independent school police departments in the nation. He is among the more than 450 sworn police officers, 126 non-sworn school safety officers and 34 civilian support staff who protect 1,300-plus Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) campuses.
Imagine a future in which you’ve become the chief of police of a midsize department following a series of highly scrutinized use-of-force incidents involving your officers. Just as you’ve become accustomed to answering difficult questions from the community, media and city leadership, you receive a visit from Department of Justice investigators who tell you they have initiated an independent investigation.